September Retail Sales Up 4.5 Percent YoY

Retail sales in September were down 0.1 percent seasonally adjusted from August but up 4.5 percent unadjusted year-over-year, the National Retail Federation said yesterday. The numbers exclude automobile dealers, gasoline stations and restaurants.

The pullback in September compared with August is possibly a reaction to increased fears over U.S.-China tensions, NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz said. “While uncertainty around trade policy and other issues has dampened consumer sentiment recently, consumers still have a lot going for them as evidenced by longer-term trends and factors like the tight labor market. September is a tricky month to measure because of seasonal factors like the end of summer and back-to-school spending, and this year’s early Labor Day may have moved up some spending into the last days of August.”

As of September, the three-month moving average was up 4.9 percent over the same period a year ago, compared with 4.1 percent in August. September’s results build on gains of 0.5 percent month-over-month and 4.7 percent year-over-year in August.

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NRF’s numbers are based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau, which said today that overall September sales – including auto dealers, gas stations and restaurants – were down 0.3 percent seasonally adjusted from August but up 4.1 percent unadjusted year-over-year.

For the period, online and other non-store sales were up 15.6 percent year-over-year but down 0.3 percent month-over-month seasonally adjusted. Sporting goods stores were unchanged year-over-year but down 0.1 percent month-over-month seasonally adjusted.